The Anonymous Letter to WaPo

Just when I thought we’d have a long weekend without a big news dump, the WaPo published its story revealing Jared Kushner asked Sergey Kislyak to set up a channel of communication with Russia at Russian facilities at a meeting in early December.

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, then President-elect Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

That story — and additional details on Kushner’s discussions with UAE — is the big headliner.

But the fascinating detail is that WaPo received an anonymous letter with details of this meeting — and other things that the WaPo suggests it may not yet have confirmed — in mid-December.

The Post was first alerted in mid-December to the meeting by an anonymous letter, which said, among other things, that Kushner had talked to Kislyak about setting up the communications channel. This week, officials, who reviewed the letter and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence, said the portion about the secret channel was consistent with their understanding of events.

For instance, according to those officials and the letter, Kushner conveyed to the Russians that he was aware it would be politically sensitive to meet publicly, but it was necessary for the Trump team to be able to continue their communication with Russian government officials.

In addition to their discussion about setting up the communications channel, Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak also talked about arranging a meeting between a representative of Trump and a “Russian contact” in a third country whose name was not identified, according to the anonymous letter.

So who could have sent the letter?

First, consider the timing. The letter was sent within a few weeks of the meeting itself. In between the meeting and sending of the letter, these very same reporters got the scoop that the CIA believed Russia affirmatively wanted Trump elected, a scoop that pre-empted the President’s call for a report on Russian tampering in the election. A week later, two of these reporters got another confirmation that John Brennan said the other agencies agreed with him on the view that Putin wanted Trump elected.

The letter also got received a few days after John McCain got a copy of Christopher Steele’s dossier (reportedly on December 9), followed just four days later by the last known and by far most incendiary installment of the dossier, which for the first time accused Trump’s campaign of paying the DNC hackers.

In other words, WaPo received the letter at a time when the IC was dumping a ton of information implicating Trump. So perhaps it was a spook who heard Kislyak’s description of the meeting on an intercept.

The dominant narrative on those intercepts, however, has said that the IC wasn’t listening closely to Kislyak intercepts until after Russia did not retaliate in response to the hacking sanctions imposed on December 28, and didn’t find the incriminating Mike Flynn conversations until around January 3. If that’s right, then the IC wouldn’t have heard about this meeting until weeks after the letter was sent. [Update: the NYT version of this–which appears to be damage control from the White House–cites a senior American official stating that they learned about this conversation “several months ago,” which would put it after the letter was sent.]

Of course, with the FBI and CIA getting their own raw feeds of data, it’s possible one agency listened to the intercepts (and had the language skills to understand them) before another did. It’s possible, for example, CIA learned about the meeting before FBI did so in the aftermath of the sanctions concerns.

It’s also possible that the Russians sent the letter — or even that Kislyak made up the Kushner claim as disinformation (remember, by this point there were leaks about FISA orders, with reports that Russian interlocutors were changing their communication habits). But it’s unclear what Russia would have to gain by sending a letter in December, rather than waiting until Kushner had compromised himself. Doing so would eliminate all the control they had gained with the information.

Which (barring a spook sending the letter) would seem to leave a Trump associate. Reportedly, WaPo’s Miller said that the letter appears to come from someone inside the Trump transition. Anyone else at the meeting would seem to be an immediate target for Trump retaliation. Though it is possible that Mike Flynn sent the letter, realizing he was getting set up by Trump, which would make the delay in reporting this detail rather interesting. That said, he would have little reason to do so in December, as opposed to now, given that he faces criminal investigation.

Outside of Flynn, though, it’s not clear many people knew this meeting ever happened, much less what happened in it. The meeting was first disclosed by the New Yorker, following which the White House quickly added (in a story to the NYT) Flynn to the story — suggesting he, and not the President’s son-in-law suggested the communication channel.

Michael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday.

Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. But among Mr. Trump’s inner circle, it is Mr. Flynn who appears to have been the main interlocutor with the Russian envoy — the two were in contact during the campaign and the transition, Mr. Kislyak and current and former American officials have said.

[snip]

“They generally discussed the relationship and it made sense to establish a line of communication,” Ms. Hicks said. “Jared has had meetings with many other foreign countries and representatives — as many as two dozen other foreign countries’ leaders and representatives.”

The Trump Tower meeting lasted 20 minutes, and Mr. Kushner has not met since with Mr. Kislyak, Ms. Hicks said.

It later became clear that Kushner hadn’t even shared that meeting with White House staffers (presumably including Don McGahn) when responding the Mike Flynn firing, much less included them on his security clearance form.

The extent of Mr. Kushner’s interactions with Mr. Kislyak caught some senior members of Mr. Trump’s White House team off guard, in part because he did not mention them last month during a debate then consuming the White House: how to handle the disclosures about Mr. Flynn’s interactions with the Russian ambassador.

Ms. Hicks said that Mr. Trump had authorized Mr. Kushner to have meetings with foreign officials that he felt made sense, and to report back to him if those meetings produced anything of note. She said that because in Mr. Kushner’s view the meetings were inconsequential, it did not occur to him to mention them to senior staff members earlier.

“There was nothing to get out in front of on this,” she said.

So there wouldn’t be that many transition staffers who would know of the meeting by mid-December.

That said, one person who knew about the meeting ahead of time was Marshall Billingslea, who tried to warn Flynn about Kislyak. And his request for the Kislyak profile would have alerted the CIA to his concerns about the meeting.

In any case, there are now reports of still more Kushner communications with Kislyak coming out, going back to April 2016. So the FBI sure has a lot to review.

Update: As others have pointed out, at 8:30 there’s a more detailed description of the typed letter, received December 12.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

62 replies
  1. fastenbulbous says:

    My guts say Bannon leaked it. I don’t know if it is plausible or not.
    I think he has the largest axe to grind toward Jared and would love to set him up for the scapegoat role.
    He’s also slimy enough to do it….

  2. P J Evans says:

    arranging a meeting between a representative of Trump and a “Russian contact” in a third country whose name was not identified

    Erik Prince in the Seychelles, in January?

  3. lefty665 says:

    It is looking like Kushner is not the brightest bulb in the pack. Or perhaps, as with many in the Trump camp, he jumped into the deep end of the pool without much knowledge, training or experience.

    Think you’ve got it with a spook as the source. I’d bet on CIA. They have been central to much of the RUSSIA hysteria and leaks. They have the language skills needed and a history of similar behavior.

    Funny that the Wash Post which has been hyperventilating about Trump disclosing classified information to the Russians is publishing reports on intercepts of Russian diplomatic communications.  That capability would seem more sensitive than ISIL putting bombs in laptops.

     

    • Skypp Waterman says:

      No. WaPo is disclosing exactly what they are being given by inside sources. They are leaking dribs & drabs, preparing the public for the ultimate evidence that our president is 100% owned by Russian. WaPo is not disclosing anything the CIA doesn’t want them to disclose.

      • lefty665 says:

        Publishing information that lets the Russians know that they do not have secure communications with their diplomats, is potentially more damaging than Trump’s disclosures. Trump had the Post clutching it’s pearls and getting the vapors because he perhaps disclosed that the Israelis were listening to ISIL. The Wash Post can have either side of that argument, but not both.

        If the CIA fed the Post classified information, whoever did it is culpable too. The US code makes mishandling classified information a crime. Mueller should add this to his investigation. Paragraph 793(f) makes intent immaterial. It applies to CIA just as it should have to Hillary.  As President Trump at least has the fig leaf of being able to declassify anything he pleases, no matter how damaging.

        • Manus says:

          There is so much disinformation coming out of the WH, that thank goodness WAPO is revealing alleged intelligence intercepts of what actually occurred between Kushner and the Russians.  It is more important for ordinary Americans to KNOW what Trump and his acolytes are up to with our #1 geopolitical enemy rather than protecting alleged sources and methods.  Kudos to whomever sent the anonymous letter with said information to WAPO:  you did America a great service.

          • lefty665 says:

            Strange that you congratulate the Wash Post for disclosing intercepts. By that logic you should be thrilled that Trump reportedly disclosed classified information and perhaps sources. I infer that your elation at disclosing classified information does not extend to Trump.  How much damage to our intelligence capabilities are you willing to sustain to damage Trump?

            Would you really be all that much happier with Pence, Ryan, Hatch or Tillerson as President? Trump sucks, but none of the rest in the line of succession improvements. Removing Trump will not give you Hillary (thank goodness).

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Perhaps the arrogance inherent in the Trump team that knowledge, experience, training, teamwork are unnecessary in TrumpLand.

      • lefty665 says:

        You may be right. Seems experience is currently giving them a profound lesson. We will see what, if anything, they make of it. As Duhbya might put it “Is our administrations learning”, or as bumper stickers occasionally remind us “Think education is expensive, try ignorance”.

  4. Just a random person says:

    I like the theory that it was James Woolsey. He quit the transition a few weeks after the letter would have been sent. The letter, per an MSNBC interview tonight, was sent to Ellen Nakashima at the Post. When Woolsey quit, she was the lead author on a story that cited “People close to Woolsey” with reasons for his departure.

  5. orionATL says:

    yes. woolsey occurred to me also. he’d have the background, animus based on background, and contacts with current cia.

    good for cia.

    as an aside, this recurring, stated, or more frequently implied, crap at emptywheel about covert “deep state” disruption of a legitimate presidential reign is too foolish to tolerate. the repub’s were headed for a presidential campaign based on “who lost ukraine”, then trump won the nomination and it was “who needs nato, let’s work things out with russia”.

    look at what’s in front of you without the ideological rose lenses, dopes!!

    • Kim says:

      Still one does have to look at what is actually, knowably, occurring. Unlike Wolfie’s old statement at least we know what we don’t know.

      We don’t know if the CIA or the FBI is leaking intel for political purposes (or leaking at all.) Thus we don’t know if they are trying to defeat an (arguably) legitimately elected President.

      We don’t know if the President’s close circle are leaking in an attempt to take the President down. We also don’t know if they are leaking in attempts to protect themselves and gain power over others in the circle.

      We don’t know if the various leaks are accurate. We don’t know if they are phony leaks being put forth by Russia or, for that matter, by others.

      We do know, at least I think we know, that no matter how this plays out the USA loses and, consequently, Russia wins.

      We do know that we can not trust anything we hear from; Russia, CIA, FBI, NSA, or the Executive Branch.

      WE do know that everything we don’t know, everything we do know, and all the things we are unsure of are deeply damaging to the Country. This massive confusion is certainly a benefit to Russia. Add to that a President whose public statements/actions support; Saudi Arabia (the real major financier and and philosophical source of terrorism), most any strong anti-democratic leaders  (see Turkey, the Philippines, China,  etc) while attacking and attempting (intentionally or not) to destabilize NATO and NATO countries. These are actions that certainly appeal to Putin.

      I, for one, can see no reasonable outcome that decreases the harm to the US, can anyone?

  6. Charles says:

    The Russians have succeeded in their objectives, which were always to discredit and weaken the American government. They gain from the leak about Kushner because in the furtherance of that objective. They were also capable of writing the letter to the Washington Post, including both genuine information and disinformation. So, they can’t be excluded as suspects.

    If–and this is a big if– the claims about the Kislyak communications are accurate, then whoever released them was willing to burn extremely, extremely valuable sources/methods. One could imagine them coming from high levels at the intelligence agencies or the White House–even Obama himself–if the leaker believed the government was about to be taken over by someone under Russian control. It would provide some degree of insurance that the betrayal wouldn’t be swept under the rug.

     

    Or the information could have come from relatively low levels.A translator, for example. An analyst. A briefer.

     

    Assuming the source is American, I think these leaks are a sign of health in our government. Whistleblowing means making sure the powerful don’t get away with wrongdoing. I can’t imagine a more important issue than one in which a president is corrupt and indifferent to the safety of the American people. About this president, there is little doubt about those characteristics.

      • Ken says:

        @emptywheel – That’s what I heard one of the WaPo reporters that broke the story say on MSNBC tonight.

        BTW Kudos to you . Yours is the first website I’ve come across that questions what Kislyak’s motivation was, including possibly disinformation, which is what has been bugging me. I mean he had to know he was being monitored by US spooks when he called Moscow, so he must have wanted the info, true or not, to get out. I’m amazed not a single “security  expert” talking head @ MSNBC, CNN etc. has brought it up. It’s kind of ironic, because they  seem to be doing what the Trump camp seems to be guilty of: Blindly trusting the unsubstantiated word of a member of the Russian govt. over members of the American govt.

  7. Sanjevs says:

    Wapo received the letter Dec 12.
    Giuliani left the transition on Dec 9.
    He cited conflict of interest, because Trump is a stickler for that.
    He is by far the biggest player in the campaign who has seemingly never received any appointment apart from Manafort for obvious reasons

    .

    • P J Evans says:

      Rudy Noun-Verb-9/11 isn’t actually qualified for much that’s actually open. He’s a loose cannon, unpopular with just about everyone in DC, and probably disliked by a lot of Congress.

  8. Avattoir says:

    Even “it [having] taken WaPo this long to confirm” doesn’t necessitate that WaPo’s due diligence resulted in this timing.

    It’s been five months, or close to that, since the anonymous letter was delivered to Nakashima.

    WaPo’s national security desk has lots (possibly the best, possibly by far) of connections into the CIA in particular of any major media org (AO, David Ignatius – tho it seems Ignatius’ contacts for the most part are with a certain sediment deposit layer of agents still ‘working’ in and around the agency’s infrastructure). Yet, with all those contacts, STILL five months?

    That suggests either
    A) the letter didn’t come from anywhere in the CIA with established contacts within WaPo, or
    B) didn’t come from within the CIA at all.

    If the latter, that in turn suggests that if WaPo nat-sec desk’s due diligence involved turning to established CIA contacts, that wouldn’t work. And not just because WaPo’s CIA contacts don’t/no-longer-have access to this sort of intel, but because no one within the CIA who WaPo has a relationship with was carrying a brief (as it were) to provide confirmation.

    But what if whoever was responsible for having the letter delivered grew concerned about the long elapse of time between delivery and publication? Wouldn’t that concern motivate them to go to work on a further reach out, by arranging for the confirmation WaPo required?

    IMO all that suggests NOT CIA, at least in terms of the delivery of the letter, but rather out of:
    1) FBI operating off info/intel provided the bureau out of another IC member not CIA, or
    2) FBI operating off info/intel out of the CIA, just not from within layers of the agency the WaPo nat-sec desk has established contacts with, or
    3) an IC member that’s neither CIA nor FBI, and tho aware that a popular leak destination of choice historically has been the WaPo nat-sec desk, is limited by naivete as to precisely what contacts within the CIA in particular the current generation of WaPo nat-sec desk reporters has.

    I’m inclined towards 3 because the IC community outside the CIA & FBI has experienced a Phoenix-like population boom since going back to 9/11, and was, after all, the context out of which Snowden worked. Surely Snowden cannot be the only non-CIA/FBI IC worker with the sort of altruistic thinking Snowden appears to have; there must be dozens, perhaps hundreds.

    That said, one argument I’d acknowledge for the first two option is the recent way-OTT POLITICO fluffer on Mueller & Comany (so much like a buttons down Butch & the Kid it borders on parody). The timing of that fluffer looks way too much like flower petals being strewn before Comey’s close-up at Senate Intel; and this news on Kushner, trying (at least) to activate a Trump-Putin back-channel, works really well as a companion piece. Together the two work like a major studio’s multiple trailer releases in advance of opening night of a big budget block bluster.

  9. Kim Kaufman says:

    I wonder how much of these leaks coming out now are because of Comey firing. From Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now on May 10:

    GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is what we were getting at earlier, which is, if you’re the Trump administration and you really believe that Jim Comey has access to incriminating evidence, on some level, the last thing you would want to do is so publicly fire him, especially in the most humiliating manner possible, not notify him—

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah, he didn’t tell him. He didn’t tell his—yeah.

    GLENN GREENWALD: Not tell him, right.

    AMY GOODMAN: He was briefing people in the L.A. office. I think he—it was on TV.

    GLENN GREENWALD: He learned it from TV. So they fired him in the most humiliating, vindictive manner possible. You could not have converted somebody into an enemy more reliably than what they did. And I think a lot of people would agree in Washington, Comey is a very shrewd operator. He knows how to stick knives into people’s backs without his fingerprint. The last person you want as an enemy freelancing against you is Jim Comey. So I think there’s going to be all kinds of really fascinating developments, now that Comey is freed from what had been this kind of stifling role as FBI director, where he really couldn’t speak publicly about much of anything.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And why, do you think—why didn’t Trump tell even senior White House officials that he was intending to do this?

    GLENN GREENWALD: So I think one of the most difficult tasks, literally, on the planet is to try and divine the thinking of the Trump White House. You never know the ratio of malice versus ineptitude. They’re so inept as a staff. It could just be they have no idea how to do anything, or it could be the way they did it to Mitt Romney: They wanted to humiliate him in as public of a manner as possible.

  10. Peterr says:

    One name I have wondered about is Chris Christie. Yes, he left the transition in early November, but I wonder if the cratering of the transition process made some of the folks who were involved with the transition pine for the days when The Big Guy was there. (Not that he did that great a job before he left, but relatively speaking, CC understood DC and the Trump clan didn’t and doesn’t.) I can easily imagine any number of conversations between Christie and some of these folks that start with “Chris, you wouldn’t believe what these guys are doing . . .” Most of that would be about who Trump was interviewing, or what Trump and his team thought of different people — pretty basic DC gossip during a transition.

    But if Christie got dumped and Sessions got the AG nomination thanks in part to Jared’s intervention, I suspect Christie’s ears would perk up if one of the transition folks started telling a story about Jared and Kislyak.

    No idea who would have been telling the story to Christie, but if I had to pick one person who would want to see that someone dragged Jared’s name into this mess, it would be Christie.

      • Peterr says:

        If there’s one thing everyone agrees on about Chris Christie, it’s that the man knows his payback.

        See “Sokolich, Mark, Mayor of Fort Lee NJ”

        • Rayne says:

          Bridgegate is a classic case, but it hadn’t occurred to me Christie might risk a future role in a different White House by burning this one down so personally — attacking a son-in-law though Kushner deserves everything he has coming to him, scumlord that he is. I would have thought Christie would tack against Manafort. Or maybe he has? Might also explain why Pence, who lead the transition team, has been left relatively unscathed. IF it was Christie is he still bucking for veep under ~yuck!~ President Pence?

          • Peterr says:

            Perhaps Christie’s learned not to be so obvious about the payback, and try a little better to keep his fingerprints off of it.

            Or perhaps he’s figuring a future administration might be grateful for his selfless contribution to the Republic that resulted in the downfall of House Trump.

  11. Rayne says:

    Russians might have dropped the letter if they wanted to ditch Kushner. Kislyak’s reaction to Kushner’s ideas about where to conduct communications mirrors Buryakov’s suspicion of the “confidential contact” who he rightly suspected might be a trap. Kushner’s loyalties might have been suspect for several reasons, including the appearance of cutting out Flynn (why didn’t Kushner go to Flynn about a backchannel given Flynn’s relationship with Russian government?). But why not groom and keep Kushner at a distance, milk him for intel and use him to divide Trump’s team? So probably not the Russians dropping the letter; they may have assumed incorrectly that Obama’s admin would intervene based on intercepted comm traffic before the inauguration to prevent Kushner from having security clearance.

    My bonkers SWAG — which will make Marcy roll her eyes and snort, I can just imagine it — what if after numerous briefings by CIA & FBI, Obama drafted the letter while he prepared the sanctions he would drop within a couple weeks? It’s not a leak if the president does it via instant declassification, amirite? And if the letter’s writer was ever uncovered, nobody in the IC community would get fingered while 44 gets the biggest possible I-know-what-you-did-in-your-face-mic-drop on his adversary. I have this awful feeling Obama and his closest IC team members knew what they were up against but couldn’t say anything publicly. How would they ensure the public knew?

    Also, have to wonder what exactly the WaPo piece meant by “mid-December” — was that December 20th, a day after two Russian diplomats had been assassinated, six weeks after diplomat Sergei Krivov died in NYC, mortally injured on Election Day?

    • lefty665 says:

      Marcy’s not the only one, eye roll and double snort.  Just as with your bizarre speculation on the Russian resort,  you would do well to get a handle on your paranoia.

      Obama has demonstrated a lot more finesse when disclosing information to tar Trump. For example, having Rice request that when Trump folks names were incidentally collected they be unmasked and then broadening the distribution of those intercepts via executive order to ensure they would be leaked. Both actions were well within their respective authorities.  I don’t like it, but it is a pretty sophisticated trick. Direct Presidential declassifying for domestic political advantage is crude, more likely Trump’s mo.

       

      • Rayne says:

        WaPo’s article and the letter on which it’s based proved I had good reason to look more closely at the evicted diplomatic compounds and ask about Russian communications methods and systems. “Resorts,” my eye — that’s some nice propaganda, comrade. Tell your minders I said so.

        • lefty665 says:

          You habitually conflate coincidence and causality, mix it in with a big dose of paranoia, then season it with anger. You are the antithesis of the informed, rational, weedy analysis Marcy has built the wheel upon. You are fortunate she is tolerant of your paranoid blathering, and the rest of us are grateful that she endures us fools in the comments section.

          Your “comrade” and suggestion of treasonous associations are not worthy of retort, but are on a par with your ugly demeanor. I keep hoping you will do better, perhaps one day you will.

           

           

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Russians have undoubtedly done a full profile on Trump and all of his top staff.  They would know Trump’s changeability, which would mean he might not stay in their pocket, even if they had embarrassing info on him or the ability to deny his businesses access to Russian funds.  Given his arrogance, Trump might assume that he could counter any Russian revelations as propaganda, which might lead the Russians to be as happy with an ignorant, arrogant, dysfunctional WH as with one in their pocket.

       

      • Les says:

        They would know from previous offers Trump made for Syria and Ukraine that he would not doing them any favors.

        Their position is one that the American government doesn’t stand by agreements, regardless of whether Trump is the president.

      • lefty665 says:

        A loose cannon could look like a less dangerous alternative than the continuation of fanatic neocon cannons that are guaranteed to be used aggressively.

  12. Peterr says:

    (ETA: meant as a reply to Rayne @9:30)

    Your SWAG reminds me of a running trope in Art Buchwald’s columns in the WaPo during Watergate, where a screenwriter would pitch a series of script ideas to a studio head. “OK, here’s the story. The President is running for reelection, he’s a jillion points ahead in the polls, but he’s nervous. So he hires a bunch of Cubans to break into his opponent’s headquarters, led by a CIA castoff . . .” In each version of the column, the studio head just shakes his head. “That’s nuts. I mean, we do fiction in movies, but they’ve got to have a germ of something that folks can buy into, a basic premise, to get into the story. This is too farfetched.”

    Reading your comment, I find myself in the position of the studio head.

    Saying something “is too farfetched” or “beyond the realm of possibility” for the Trump Administration is fast becoming a logical impossibility.

    • Rayne says:

      Do you know how many film and TV producers have actually tweeted something to that effect? That had they been presented [something Trump/aide/supporter] did in a script in past/last year they would have rejected it as too extreme — and yet clearly they were wrong. I see comments to this effect at least couple times a week in another feed. So many writers I know are furious they can’t out-write this level of crey.

      Just this week there was a story about House of Cards being Trumped — can the next season be as or crazier than the Trump administration? Stay tuned!

      Kidding aside, it’s important to realize the reason we are here is cognitive dissonance. We haven’t been able to imagine serious threats to our democracy coming in the form of the GOP’s putative leader, supported by fellow Americans wrapped in flags and wearing crosses. But they’ve hollowed out our republic for decades right under our noses until it was ripe for picking by grifters with the help of a foreign power. We’ve put Sinclair Lewis warning off as mere fiction. Ditto Margaret Atwood and so many other authors of dystopic fiction.

      And here we are, contemplating a White House populated by white nationalists, divided within by grift methods (money laundering/asset sales/access, etc.) and ideologies (extreme Christian fundamentalism/nihilism/universal fascism). Welcome to Season One.

       

      • lefty665 says:

        Pence is the one Sinclair Lewis had in mind. Remember that as you cheer on the banshees and tantruming Dems circling Trump’s head. As the old joke goes. “Life was tough and I cheered myself by thinking ‘things could be worse’, and pretty soon they were.”

        “they’ve hollowed out our republic for decades right under our noses”. Wow, what a nice job of restating domestically Gen. Jack D. Ripper’s paranoia in Dr. Strangelove that the Commies will “sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”  Paranoia strikes deep, into your mind it will creep…  Got your machine gun and survival gear ready?

         

        • John Casper says:

          lefty665,
          In various forms the word “paranoia” appears five times in this thread. The same commenter wrote all five. He also wrote “Got your machine gun and survival gear ready?”

          “You habitually conflate coincidence and causality, mix it in with a big dose of paranoia, then season it with anger. You are the antithesis of the informed, rational, weedy analysis Marcy has built the wheel upon. You are fortunate she is tolerant of your paranoid blathering,…”
          Your “bizarre speculation” in this thread is “on a par with your ugly demeanor. I keep hoping you will do better, perhaps one day you will.”

          Please apologize to Rayne for the calumny.
          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03190c.htm

          Sinclair Lewis died in 1951. How long have you been a medium?
          Almost all ew commenters knew last year that Pence would be worse. Glad you caught up. Here’s your chance to argue for keeping Trump to block Pence’s ascendancy.

  13. orionATL says:

    kim –

    “We don’t know if the CIA or the FBI is leaking intel for political purposes (or leaking at all.) Thus we don’t know if they are trying to defeat an (arguably) legitimately elected President.”

    i have no problem with cia/fbi/nsa leaking info. leaking to influence the public perception is a washington tradition. why should leaking be limited to elected officials if they are in some way corrupt. you have possibly heard of “deep throat”. or of daniel ellsworth.

    “arguably legitimately elected”. let’s just specify “elected” because once you get the electoral college vote, you are the prez, whether you are st. francis or faustus.

    having specified “elected” we can now take off the blinders associated with hocus-pocus “deep state” claptrap. there are two power centers:

    one (the current republican party) is domestic-centered and focused on an extraordinary revolution in how government functions in the u. s. with emphasis on giving power and tax monies to corporations, and small businesses.

    the opposing side (intell community) is foreign-policy/national security centered and focused on preventing a long-time enemy, russia, and its authoritarian ruler from being able to influence either american electoral choices or european-american defenses against russia.

    these two sides are at war with each other. there is no reason at all the assume the current republican party’s conduct is legitimate while the intell community’s conduct is illigitimate.

    the key distinction to make in all of this is that russian interference in an american election, if it happened, must be exposed in detail. (see the story of the attempted take-over of the sierra club for perspective on how serious these covert efforts can be.)

    whether the trump campaign colluded with the russians, as opposed to just enjoying the benefits of russian sabatoge, is an important, but a secondary, question.

    in my view, folks who are blinded by our recent adventures in populism (right = trumpses, left = sanderses, they are functionally the same) to the central issue of subversion of the electoral information appearing in our various media are very foolish people indeed.

    • Rayne says:

      Let’s keep in mind, too, as intelligence within the Steele dossier is validated, that one of the items was active measures using Sanders supporters to fragment the left. They aren’t just blind — they have been manipulated like useful tools. While ‘trumpses’ will remain just as they are, blind by virtue of their authoritarian personalities and steady at 20-25% of voters, the ‘sanderses’ will remain a quantity difficult to predict going forward. We won’t know for how long subversion by demoralizatsiya will grip them.

      • J2 says:

        I am unaware that anything in the Steele dossier has been verified. Which bits of the dossier have been validated?

        Be specific and identify who has rendered such validation.

        If there are verifications, are they ‘material’ ?

        And while on the subject, did the FBI pay Steele at any point? At what point?

        Do you find it plausible, as Brennan testified, that he has not read the dossier?

         

         

      • greengiant says:

        Political operatives and false flag ops have a long history in US politics,  see Muskie crying.   Some large fraction of the social media likes are fake whether from Putin’s people or script kiddies.   For a joke look at replies to RealDonald’s twitter.    Where you see a Sanders’ problem I see fake news.  All manner of “Sanders” supporters were actually “Trump” supporters for cash or giggles.   The Democrats are so owned by neo-liberals not sure when a populist will succeed on the left.    The neo-liberal came within thousands of votes of Clinton winning.   Misleading polls increased the protest vote for Stein by making it seem safe that Clinton would win anyway.   “Emails” were the 90? percent reason for rust belt  fence sitters not voting for Clinton and I swag those were center voters, not leftist.
        The disinformation campaigns are long planned and in full swing.   Team TrumpRussia players have been disrespecting Kushner. What is that about? Other media stars have been caught trying to get anti-Trump credit or bragging about being false flag disinformation divas.

        • greengiant says:

          Coinkydink:  within an hour of the above post RealDonald blocked Bess Kalb @bessbell.   Then her replies don’t show up.  Now millions of bots have been added as followers,  perhaps they should be called botlickers.

    • Kim Kaufman says:

      “arguably legitimately elected”. While Trump did “win” the electoral vote, I would argue whether it was legitimate, based on the documentation of voter suppression by Kris Kollbacht’s “cross check” scheme, as written about by Greg Palast. I have now seen numbers of how many were disenfranchised in mostly rust belt states and it’s far more than Trump won by. Just sayin’… and I was not a Hillary supporter and I’m not defending the Dems, who have been silent about Republican efforts in this area of voter disenfranchisement since 2000.

  14. Kathleen says:

    Interesting to hear analyst David “axis of evil” Frum, war hawk Max Boot and Lawrence O’Donnell infer that Kushner may have just been “naive” about the Russia contacts being listened to etc.  A Harvard graduate, newspaper owner, head of an inherited real estate empire, gone through his father’s ordeal not know that any dealings with Russian officials, bankers etc would be being listened to or held under a suspicious light?  Heard Isikoff and a few other journalist throw out the possibility of Kushner being “naive”    What a bunch of hooey.

    Kushner, Flynn omitted these meetings in their security clearance documents, Then Kushner suggest Comey should be given the shove.  No “naivete” there

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Kushner’s approach to Kislyak about setting up a comms channel secret from the then American government is highly questionable.  As important, it’s hardly a request that would come when a relationship was new or tentative or not  shared by Kushner’s patrons.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One possibility for why these Trump team communications with Moscow should be secret from the USG, a month before Trump’s team entered office, is not just that they might involve bad acts by team Trump – bad enough – but that they might involve the private personal business of the players making them.  Not just Flynn, but the top execs of Trump’s enterprise.

    Trump’s behavior in Europe strongly suggests that enhancing his personal wealth while acting as president is a fundamental part of what he seeks to do as America’s top public servant.  In fact, his legislative proposals, signals really, indicate that his primary concern is to loot the public purse under the guise of “enhancing freedom”.

    • Peterr says:

      they might involve the private personal business of the players making them

      Which brings us back to Jared.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Self-dealing.  Always the defining characteristic of the Trump enterprise, now of the Trump administration.

        Jared and Bannon now apparently going to head the WH team meant to scotch investigations of the Russian investigation.  That might be putting those with the most to lose in charge of their self-defense.  I guess that means we’ll wait another few years for someone in the WH to nominate those several hundred appointments requiring Senate approval.  Who can worry about running the government when Enterprise Trump is at risk?

  17. Jum says:

    The contact person could have been Trump’s lawyer Cohen. Whatever Cohen relays could be covered by privilege. I rarely read about him anymore since he tweeted out the cover of hiss passport to deny being in Prague to see a Russian. I think it was something that the dossier alleged. I am sort of surprised that Kushner , rather than someone more peripheral, would be the person responsible for backchannels

  18. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Keep in mind that #UnfitForOffice and his “admin team” are stumbling over their own hubris. There really is not a need to worry about foreign IC agencies. They are too distracted watching this mess and ROTFLTAO.

  19. Evangelista says:

    The Christie that all of this business brings to my mind is Dame Agatha.  She used to write plots as complex, involuted, convoluted and adroitly complicated as the WaPos and NYT-wits and everyone speculating along with them are whupping up to keep the wake for the “The Case of The “Russian Intrigue”” boiling, burbling, roiling and churning (enough to frustrate the witches of “Macbeth”–“Dammit, Sisters, the newts and toads are jumping out again!”–).  The difference, of course, is that Dame Agatha knew what she was doing.  Today’s ‘plotters’ seem to be just jumping from one desperate imagineeration to a next one, letting their plot twist in its own wind…

    When reading Dame Agatha, my preference is to simply follow along, enjoying the imagery and constructions, confident that the end will work, the whole producing, and proofing built upon, logical constructions.  I recommend the same technique for following the present plotting, with exception of anticipating logic or logical conclusion.

    For those who can’t help themselves and so MusT anticipate ahead to imagine where the convolutions may arrive in final convulsion, I offer the following data tit-bits that I have not yet seen recognized:  Jared Kushner is, and has been, the Trump forces’ liaison to Israel, wherefore actions he may have been, or be, involved in may be of Israeli initiation or instigation, or Jared-anticipated, or interpreted, Israeli beneficience, or intention to benefit Israel, or to increase Israel’s influence, or improve Israel’s positions in ones of a variety of primary and secondary effect situations, including, among others, Israel’s relations with Russia in regard to a variety of Israeli interests.  This means that Israel could also be ‘The Leaker’ that everyone is mad to discover…

    Does that make everything more interesting for everyone?  More exciting, more intriguing?  Of course I do not ask ‘More clear?’…

    After all, what does anyone want with clarity in a storybook case like this one?  Consider, for example, the perfect clarity of the perfectly clear recognition by the Russians that in event of a Trump presidential-race victory a standard diplomatic tit-for-tat response to Obama’s Lame-Duck’s-Last-Limp assault against U.S.-Russian relations, evicting diplomatic personnel en-masse and stealing legally owned real estate, could be counter-productive, wherefore Russia did not ‘rise to the bait’ and, instead, reserved response.

    That action, or inaction, by Russia clearly, and right out front and openly, indicated a Russian anticipation of at least a possible Trump election victory.  No covert, no sub-rosa, sub-tulip, sub-pansy or even Nixonian-tinted sub-rosemary hiden component at all.

    Which makes a “scoop” of Russia looking for a Trump victory a “Twenty-first Century American Journalism Scoop!!!”, instead of any kind of a real scoop at all.

    Which just adds humor.  It does nothing to make “America’s Teen-Age Years In The Twenty-first Century” any less of a “Romp in the Ridiculous” and “A good light and whimsical, if somewhat stuporous, Summer Read”.

  20. Warisill says:

    I still don’t get why Kushner is setting up these meetings. It seems to me that they were intended to entrap him into a compromising position so that the russkies would have someone trump cares about in their pocket. It’s possible that bank deals could have been discussed, but I’m curious what investigators will ask kushner and what he’ll reveal. It’s also possible that the weasel Flynn will rat everyone out sooner rather than later

Comments are closed.